Aspen lefties mourn Paradise Lost but celebrate Utopia Found

I’m talking about an ice cream parlor. Yes, people who wouldn’t know John Milton from Milton Berle are in hellish agony over the decision by a landlord not to renew the lease on a local ice cream and cookie shop called Paradise Bakery.

The landlord was apparently offered a better deal by a clothing boutique.

This, say the lefties, proves again that capitalism is bad. First, capitalists come for the ice cream parlors and replace them with more profitable clothing boutiques. Next, they’ll come for the clothing boutiques and replace them with more profitable ice cream parlors.

Responding to people’s ever-changing tastes by selling them what they want to buy is just so immoral, huh?

So the social justice warriors are bombarding the newspapers with letters, vilifying the landlord and generally signalling simultaneously their love of self and food.

Enter our old tennis instructor cum new mayor who’s never met a problem too trivial for a ham-handed government solution. He demanded a meeting with the evil landlord. This is how things work in the socialist utopia of Aspen these days.

The mayor is probably but not necessarily smart enough not to explicitly threaten to sentence all the landlord’s pending building permits to an eternity in purgatory. So the lesson to the landlord will instead go something like this: “We Aspen progressives oppose this clothing boutique, except those to whom the boutique caters, who don’t matter because they disagree. We like our ice cream and cookies. If you get in the way of what we like, when we like it and where we like it, then you’re greedy. And greed is just as bad as gluttony. So that would make you just as bad as us.”

Advantage landlord. I don’t think that weak serve from the tennis-instructor mayor will be an ace. But unless the mayor is ready for a court other than his green concrete one, that’s all he’s got.

There’s precedent for the town politburo to dictate gastronomy to the serfs. A few years ago, they conditioned a building permit on the developer finding a restaurateur for the basement of the little building that was being permitted. Not just any restaurateur, but one who would agree to a menu and prices controlled by the city.

I ran a contest to name the new commie restaurant. A reader, Paul Menter, won with “Castro’s Corner” while Maurice Emmer suggested menu item “Pol Pot Pie.”

But it never happened. The space sat empty as the developer tried for years to find such a restaurateur. None was interested. Can you believe it? The town eventually quietly canceled the restaurant clause.

I’ll get back to ice cream in a minute.

I realize that the doctrine of these apparatchiks is “the government that governs best governs most.” But really, don’t they have bigger fish to fry?

What about the $3 billion taxpayer-subsidized housing program that is plagued by inefficiency, cheating, cronyism, rundown units and tax evasion — a program whose governing body practically begs to be scooped up for a federal racketeering prosecution by a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney?

OK, back to ice cream. Those in mourning point out that this isn’t just any ice cream shop. It’s at a corner where musicians from the music school play for tips.

I like music as much as ice cream, but have you noticed how many of the music school violinists are Asians? It’s almost like we’re harboring an unwoke music school that’s still hung up on musical merit.

The music school could take a cue from Harvard where Asians are discriminated against because so many are so good that they make the rest of us look bad and, worse, feel bad.

And what’s with playing jingoistic tunes in early July on brass instruments like the trumpet, which is related to imperialistic war machines like the bugle? And they do so with no trigger warnings!

Back to ice cream again. I have a cool suggestion to lick the problem. (You knew I had to say that.)

It’s this. If Aspen so values its socially just desserts (and maybe it does — this place hosts a food and wine bacchanalia every June, something you don’t see much in Venezuela anymore), then the operator of Paradise Bakery could offer his landlord higher rent as an inducement for a renewal of his lease.

The operator could simply pass his higher rent onto his customers in the form of higher prices for ice cream cones. The customers would be delighted to pay a few dimes more for their treats because after all they’re gluttonous, not greedy.

Unless of course this isn’t about ice cream at all, and is really just an excuse to bash business and capitalism. In that case, party on. But don’t expect the grown-ups to take you seriously.

(Published May 19, 2019 in the Aspen Times at


What about the adoption option?

Americans abort over half a million fetuses a year. A single organization with the ironic name of Planned Parenthood prevents parenthood in this way several hundred thousand times a year.

Compared to the rest of the world, our abortion laws are lax. Only about 30% of countries allow abortion simply because a woman wants one. The abortion laws of Finland, Germany, France and several other European countries are more stringent than American law.

Some fetuses survive abortions, and are intentionally killed on the operating table. Hard data on this is difficult to obtain, of course, but in the macabre clinic of abortionist Kermit Gosnell it apparently happened fairly often.

A disproportionate number of aborted fetuses are racial minorities. Nearly as many black fetuses are aborted as are born. Altogether, 19 million black fetuses have been aborted in the United States since Roe v. Wade — about triple the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

Some states are nonetheless liberalizing their abortion laws further. For example, New York recently enacted legislation permitting abortion up to the moment of birth. One gets the impression that this type of legislation is not because there’s a pressing need, but simply to taunt the other side.

Other states are going the other way. They seek to outlaw abortions except under very narrow circumstances (though the law would apply to the performer of the abortion, not to the woman receiving one).

This is all tragic, but here’s the weird thing. While we kill thousands of fetuses a day, couples and singles desperately seeking to adopt and raise a child are on waiting lists extending for years.

Why this disconnect? Why are we slaughtering lives on a genocidal scale, considering making criminals out of doctors and potentially risking the health of women, all while making adoptive parents wait for years?

It’s because today’s politics is not about solving problems. It’s about bashing the other tribe. The reason politicians on both sides do this is because it works. It gets them elected and re-elected. We should blame ourselves for that, and should do something about it.

In the meantime, let’s stop weaponizing babies, criminalizing doctors, endangering women, demonizing men and bashing the other side. This is too important. Lives are at stake.

And let’s put aside the unanswerable questions of theology and philosophy like: “When does a living fetus become a living baby?”

Let’s instead talk about solutions. Here are mine.

First, allow prospective adoptive parents to sponsor pregnant women through their pregnancy. The sponsorship would entail paying for the woman’s medical costs together with a stipend in recognition of the significant hardship of pregnancy and labor.

Drug tests could be a mandatory part of the woman’s medical checkups during the sponsored pregnancy.

Second, make contraception available over the counter without a prescription, including the pill. Republicans recently suggested this, and Planned Parenthood strongly objected.

Third, make kindergarten and day care available at no cost to parents nationwide. We do this for first-graders because it makes us a better society with better citizens. Are pre-kindergartners any less important or less vulnerable?

Finally, limit abortion in the second and third trimesters to cases where the woman’s life is legitimately threatened. When a woman aborts for convenience, it’s reasonable to ask her to make the decision within three months, especially if there’s a real alternative of putting the delivered baby up for adoption by eager parents.

Insofar as abortion is concerned, I’m with Hillary Clinton who said back in 2008 that it should be “safe, legal and rare. And by rare, I mean rare.” (In her 2016 campaign, she deleted all three references to “rare” from her formula in a concession to the abortion lobby, which apparently wants abortion not to be rare.)

I know neither side will like my solutions. One side will say that a fetus is just a blob of cells that can be disposed of whenever and however the woman to whom it is attached dictates.

That argument is just not scientific. Ultrasound images show that a fetus in the later months of pregnancy looks and even acts like a baby, not a blob of cells. Studies show that at least by the third trimester, a fetus feels pain.

Sometimes that side of the debate also contends that as a man I have no right to an opinion on this issue because no fetus has seen fit to attach itself to me.

That argument is just stupid. It’s like saying I have no right to an opinion against animal abuse because I’ve never given birth to a dog. Having an opinion about legal and moral issues of the day is not only my right, but as a citizen it’s my obligation.

The opposite side to the debate may say that ending the life of a living fetus at any stage after fertilization constitutes infanticide. OK, that’s a bright line. But it’s one that produces inhumane outcomes in cases of rape, incest, horrible deformities or disease.

In short, the absolutists and polarizing protagonists will say what their agenda dictates without regard to hard realities.

And so maybe my solutions, disliked by both sides, are good ones. Anybody who thinks abortion is a simple problem that lends itself to simple solutions hasn’t really thought through it.

I welcome other suggestions. We surely can stop performing hundreds of thousands of abortions a year. We surely can stop this slaughter.

Published June 2, 2018 in the Aspen Times at